Brick by Brick

bricks

Working in the basement on a rainy day seems like good cause for ruminating, while I keep myself on task.

Author Daniel Pink says he believes in the simple action of showing up- working brick by brick. .. how taking small steps every day becomes a cumulative effect.  This is an experience I can attest to, since my paintings often evolve over the course of weeks and months.  (Even the tiny ones- geesh!)   But since I am not replicating reality or a photo of reality, there’s often no real reference points except what I find interesting or compelling.  And often I can’t see that until I am well into a conversation with a piece.
Waiting for inspiration is lame-  we’ve oversold it and been undersold the PRACTICE. But part of the practice is being able to respond to a thought, idea or impulse that may only present itself for a split second.  Is this inspiration? or just the clarity that comes with wrestling with a problem for long enough that your mind is working behind the scenes.   Sometimes when you’re going for a walk, sometimes when you’re talking with a friend, sometimes when you go downstairs to glance at the painting on the wall for 10 seconds at night on the way to shove some laundry in the machine.

The hand and eye working in response to how you specifically think and feel about something  (idea/subject) takes more time and effort… or practice. The result can be abstract/non-objective or representational or ?  But vapid sloppy work can also be the result.

images

 As Dave Hickey so aptly put it- “A frenzied, vague, emotional response just means your hand is moving in a pleasantly abandoned fashion.”  (ie: Art as “therapy”)

And this results in the kind or work that I remember being discussed in grad school as the sort that you could just “peel off the canvas”. . . emotionally thin or sloppily conceived or not dense enough to have been thought about very much.  It relies on gimmickry or facility or satisfaction without labor.  Things of which I am still wary (the Protestant work ethic is, after all, part of my genetic makeup) …. so… brick  by  brick  by  brick

 

Brick by Brick… Am I easily distracted or do I just have lots of good ideas simultaneously?

bricksI’ve been working in my home studio for about 2 years now- and enjoy several things about it.
•No rent.
•More space.
•Obviously closer to home-  I can go work anytime- for hours or 15 critical minutes.
•I can do the studio tour more easily.
•Everything is stored in one location.
•I have separate work areas set up for painting, drawing, printmaking, and desk work.
ah….. it’s the last one that might be a mixed blessing.

Desk area Ever the multi-tasker. Listening to a lecture by Daniel Ariely while reworking some monotypes with various media.
Desk area
Ever the multi-tasker. Listening to a lecture by Daniel Ariely about Irrational behavior while reworking some monotypes with various media.
Drawing Wall Lots of pending ideas, and a couple pastels up on the wall.  Finally using that black paper that's been in  my flat file for years.
Drawing Wall
Lots of pending ideas, and a couple pastels up on the wall. Finally using that black paper that’s been in my flat file for years.
Painting Wall Warpping up the large grey one, and several 8x10's coming along.
Painting Wall
Wrapping up the large grey one, and several 8×10’s coming along.

Because when I have several ways to work, of course I have several things going on at once. And they all interest me. And they are all mere steps away from each other.
uh oh
but over the years of working this way, I have become used to this  – everything eventually gets done… even if they all stagger towards the finish line at different speeds.  Being able to trust this is important. The author Daniel Pink says he believes in the simple action of showing up- working brick by brick-  how showing up every day becomes a cumulative effect.
SO… perhaps waiting for inspiration is lame-  we’ve oversold it (part of the mystique of the ‘artiste’?) and been undersold the PRACTICE
Or as Dave Hickey so aptly put it- “A frenzied, vague, emotional response just means your hand is moving in a pleasantly abandoned fashion.”  This is art as therapy.

The hand and eye working in response to how you think and feel about something  (idea/subject) takes more time and effort.

Being able to live with ambiguity and incompleteness- knowing that all the little incremental steps do add up to work that is resolved and also has a deeper history. That’s a tougher task.

brick by brick  –  that’s just the way I roll.  If you keep adding enough bricks- pretty soon you've built something substantial!